Properties and functions of the novel type I interferon epsilon

Zoe R.C. Marks, Nicole Campbell, Nicole A. deWeerd, San S. Lim, Linden J. Gearing, Nollaig M. Bourke, Paul J. Hertzog

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Interferon epsilon (IFNε) is a type I IFN with unusual patterns of expression and therefore, function. It is constitutively expressed by reproductive tract epithelium and regulated by hormones during estrus cycle, reproduction, and menopause and by exogenous hormones. The IFNe protein is encoded by a gene in the type I IFN locus, binds to IFNAR1 and 2 which are required for signaling via the JAK STAT pathway. Its affinity for binding receptors and transducing signals is less potent than IFNα or β subtypes in vitro. Nevertheless, in vivo experiments indicate its efficacy in regulating mucosal immune responses and protecting from bacterial and viral infections. These studies demonstrate a different mechanism of action to type I IFNs. In this organ system with dynamic fluxes in cellularity, requirement to tolerate an implanted fetus, and be protected from disease, there is co-option of a special IFN from a family of effective immunoregulators, with unique controls and modified potency to make it a safe and effective constitutive reproductive tract cytokine.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101328
Number of pages9
JournalSeminars in Immunology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019


  • hormone regulation
  • IFNε
  • interferon epsilon
  • interferon receptors
  • mucosal immunity
  • signal transduction

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